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The purpose of the exhibition is twofold. First, the intention is to introduce the Finnish artist Harro, and his important contribution to contemporary art, to Icelandic people and, secondly, to create a dialogue around the critical message of his work.
The exhibition will concentrate on Harro’s pop-art period and present many of his best known works from 1968 to 1972. Among works in the exhibition is the Pig Messiah, for which Harro was convicted for blasphemy. Works based on the Finnish flag and business logos will also be shown. The intention is to immerse Icelandic audience in the specific context of Harro’s approach by presenting a number of pieces from his best known series of work. The works come from the Turku Art Museum, Wainö Aaltonen Museum of Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma, and the artist’s own collection. Harro will be present at the opening of the exhibition. The introduction of Harro in Iceland as a significant but overlooked Nordic artist will be combined with introduction of the Icelandic Pop-Artist Erró at the Turku Art Museum. Besides being significant figures in the history of contemporary art, both Harro and Erró and their production continue to stir discussions, stimulate research and act as a catalyst to artists and key actors inside popular and subcultures alike.
To start with the latter concern, an exhibition of Harro’s early work is particularly timely at this junction in Icelandic history. As the country is slowly recovering from the economic collapse of 2008, the population is going through critical examination of its values and its way of life. The works from Harro’s pig project and from The Finnish Way of Life translate easily across time and borders. The questions that Harro raises with his series of flags, for instance—flags full of holes, flags stretching, swelling, shrinking, ripping, splitting, crumbling, melting and burning—can and should also be asked about the Icelandic way of life. The crisis in the Icelandic national identity in the wake of the crash calls for discussion in the critical terms that Harro offers in his strikingly simple and forthright manner. Equally, Harro’s play on business logos of large oil corporations—Smell, Essto, Gulp and BB—are readily understood across time and borders as they raise pertinent questions about current environmental issues and globalization. And the complacency and self-conceit that Harro depicts in the pig project is immediately understood by anyone, young or old.
© Reykjavik Art Museum.